[PACapitalChapter] Hilly's artical
missannawalker at gmail.com
Mon Oct 28 00:27:22 UTC 2019
Here is the article about Hillary
Anna C. Walker
Speeding Toward Her Goals
by Lynda Hudzick
Growing up, Hillary McFadden did not enjoy eating out as much as she might
have because there were no braille menus available for her to review and
choose her meal.
Blind since infancy, McFadden said, “As a blind individual, eating out can
be overwhelming because we constantly have to ask someone to read to us
what is on the menu.”
As a young adult, McFadden decided to do something about the situation and
start her own business at the same time.
“I came up with the idea of creating braille menus for restaurants that did
not have any menu to accommodate people with visual impairments,” she said.
“I met with a few of my favorite restaurant owners, explained my concerns,
and pitched my accommodating ideas.”
Several of the establishments she spoke with were excited about her idea,
and now, they have become very satisfied clients.
[Picture caption: McFadden at a local coffee shop, using her braille-writer
to create menus for her business.]
“Being a business owner is cool because I get to create my own itinerary of
restaurants I would like to do business with,” McFadden said. “It’s
rewarding to be paid for services I am rendering in the community.”
Of course, she has also been faced with rejection.
“There were times I pitched my idea to restaurants [owners] who were not
interested,” she said.
However, for her, the excitement of visiting a restaurant that is using the
menus she created, and witnessing someone ordering from those very menus,
definitely makes it all worthwhile.
What makes the story of this young entrepreneur even more remarkable is
that McFadden is not only blind, but also on the autism spectrum. She works
with Keystone Autism Services’ Adult Community Autism Program, which,
according to the folks at KAS, offers “one of the nation’s leading
innovative programs to support individuals with autism spectrum disorders
as they seek to be included in the community.”
With their support, McFadden has been able to create her own job when few
opportunities for traditional employment exist for someone like her.
According to a recent report entitled “The Case for Inclusion,” released by
the ANCOR Foundation, only 17% of Pennsylvanians with intellectual and/or
developmental disabilities work in competitive employment, working
alongside those without disabilities and earning market-driven wages.
[Picture caption: McFadden reading a book to a class at Capital Area Head
“I’ve been a participant with KAS since August of 2010,” McFadden said. “I
enjoy working with the people who support me at KAS. They help me achieve
goals so that I continue to become more independent in my everyday life.”
McFadden is not all work and no play, though. She is also quite the
accomplished speed skater, a sport that perhaps might not seem like
something in which someone with visual impairments could excel. She recalls
that when “speed skating was announced at school, I wanted to try it but
was told no.”
The summer following that announcement, she attended the W.I.N.G.S. program
for the blind in Maryland, and it was there she learned that “the sky is
the limit and I can do anything I put my mind to.
“So that next school year when speed skating was announced, I stated I was
interested in trying,” said McFadden.
This time was different, though. When she again was told that she could not
participate, “my mom and I fought hard for me to be part of the speed
skating program,” McFadden said. “Eventually they gave in and allowed me to
She has been excelling in and enjoying the sport ever since.
McFadden has participated in the Special Olympics winter games and the
winter state games. Training is hard work and takes a lot of time and
dedication, but it is all worth it because, as she said, “I love how it
makes me feel free on the ice, and I love going fast.”
As a young woman who owns her own business and participates in a highly
competitive sport, McFadden wants others who have been identified as having
ASD to be encouraged and to keep “striving for what they want to achieve in
life,” she said. “It may be challenging, but fighting for what makes you
happy is key.”
As far as what she wishes people would take the time to realize about those
“People with autism are very smart,” she said. “We may have challenges
expressing what we want or need, but we are consistent and goal-driven
Although she admits she is not quite yet where she wants to be in life,
McFadden also said, “I will continue to work on accomplishing my goals and
being a role model for those who are visually impaired and individuals
living with autism.”
Anna C. Walker
President, Capital Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of
Vice-president, Pennsylvania Association of Blind Students
101 Kelly Drive
Carlisle, PA 17015
Cell: (717) 658-9239
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